Author Topic: Why Chrono Cross?  (Read 7109 times)

Kiloku

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Why Chrono Cross?
« on: April 08, 2012, 02:04:33 am »
I post this with the risk of being terribly flamed. And I joined just to do this.

Thing is, I wanted to know the opinion of the other fans of Chrono Trigger.

Chrono Cross seems like a bad sequel to me, but I see a HUGE amount of support and love for it around, and I'd like to understand that. I only see negatives with this game, starting with the fact that it throws all the player's actions in Trigger out the window: Lavos is alive (with no good explanation why) as the Time Devourer, Guardia, which you saved in 600AD, fell and everything points to a bleak future.
Also lost from Trigger is the world, itself. The locations simply ceased to exist (or are absurdly different than their Trigger counterparts), and that makes no sense to me.
The characters have mostly disappeared (exceptions being Lucca, Schala and Robo, but Lucca's dead, Schala's imprisoned and Robo became the Prometheus Circuit).
Cross adds new content to the world that conflicts with Trigger (like the new species).
The 45 characters develop badly in comparison to the 7 in Trigger, for obvious reasons.
Time travel has disappeared, instead we have 2 (badly explained) dimensions
And the battle system is incomprehensible.

I can actually see this game's plot as a good plot, but not as CT's sequel, but an independent story set in it's own universe.

I'd really like to understand what's good in this game, mainly storywise, and why it's deserving of the "Chrono" name.
And again, sorry for starting with such a polemic post, but it's something I've been trying to understand, and finally decided to ask the other players about it.

Ryufen

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 01:43:33 pm »
Chrono Cross was not intended to be a sequel, it is a separate story, in the same world....there is a good explaination for lavos being alive, if you play the game...poore took over guardia, you even here about poore's army in chrono trigger. the location of chrono cross was made over countless centuries by Faith.  the terraforming project.  all of the things you state can be understood if you just play the game and read the dialouge........most of the stuff can be explained if you read the dialogue script or you could read some of the plot summaries for chrono cross.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2012, 03:19:53 am by Ryufen »

Schala Zeal

  • Radical Dreamer (+2000)
  • *
  • Posts: 2125
  • 7th Elemental Innate, and vtuber
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 03:10:43 pm »
my own recently unshelved RPGMaker fan interquel is likely to get a pounding too...eheh

Mr Bekkler

  • Bounty Hunter
  • Zurvan Surfer (+2500)
  • *
  • Posts: 2733
  • So it goes.
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 04:27:55 pm »
I post this with the risk of being terribly flamed. And I joined just to do this.
No problem, opinions are opinions and at least you're well spoken in your text, AND come asking for honest opinions instead of starting some flame war against the game yourself, which is perfectly reasonable :)

Quote
Thing is, I wanted to know the opinion of the other fans of Chrono Trigger.

Chrono Cross seems like a bad sequel to me, but I see a HUGE amount of support and love for it around, and I'd like to understand that.
It is a bad sequel but not a bad game, and that is the most important factor in understanding the Chrono fandom as a whole. Or at least, the most important one you seem to be missing.


Quote
I only see negatives with this game, starting with the fact that it throws all the player's actions in Trigger out the window: Lavos is alive (with no good explanation why) as the Time Devourer, Guardia, which you saved in 600AD, fell and everything points to a bleak future.
Also lost from Trigger is the world, itself. The locations simply ceased to exist (or are absurdly different than their Trigger counterparts), and that makes no sense to me.
The characters have mostly disappeared (exceptions being Lucca, Schala and Robo, but Lucca's dead, Schala's imprisoned and Robo became the Prometheus Circuit).
I'd like to explain the one reason why all of this is true and use it to justify the choices made in development but there simply isn't one reason. There are several.

First of all, Square Enix pushes developers creating new games to create all new worlds, new characters, and newly coded systems for fear of gamers not wanting to repurchase what they already have. This seems ironic considering the string of remakes/re-releases but it helps to create a unique identity for every game so that no game lives in another's shadow. Obviously with SE being a company their motivations, strategies, and decisions vary over time (and they keep merging with more and more companies) so what I'm saying may not apply for every game. This method of all new content every time works very well for them with some franchises, like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Those games are their biggest money-making draws for audiences so it's no wonder they try to replicate the formula for other franchises. However, while they seem to be able to handle the story-telling aspect of more interconnected franchises like Chrono and Kingdom Hearts and the Xeno series, they tend to make fans more angry with those series because of different expectations that come with that kind of story.

The game came out on Playstation in the beginning days of 3d gaming and the developers really wanted to show what could be done with the system. For all accounts, the game is absolutely beautiful. Some say it looks better than some current-gen games because of the aesthetic (and if you run the game on an emulator on a decent PC you can actually get it up to HD resolution looking better than it ever did on PS1). The music is top-knotch (though personally I wish it had slightly less island flare). The battle system is complex and almost totally new and different from other SE games (close to Xenogears but both have nice differences). The amount of information that would have to be stored on a CD no less for all the characters and locations is ridiculous and the way they managed it is a technological marvel (comparable to what was done with CT on a tiny SNES cartridge). The hardware simply isn't the same as SNES and rather than try to use it the same way or make it feel the same, the game was built on the PS1's strengths through and through.

Next, how exactly do you follow up such an epic story that seems to wrap up all the main characters and the entire world's history in a nice package full of closure without walking backwards? You can't, really. To make any sequel to Chrono Trigger, they would have had to invoke a little retroactive continuity, revisit the motivations and expectations of the previous game, and dig up a story based on the ramifications of kids having the ultimate power over time. Their story was already over and the lighthearted fun had already been had. Chrono Cross was doomed to never feel like Chrono Trigger even if it was completely different than what we have as an official release. Again, that's not to say it was doomed to be a bad game, but it would never feel like a conventional sequel. Honestly, having Crono and co have to re-stop some big world threat that wasn't Lavos but somehow bigger and worse (sequelitis) would have been more hokey, more cliche, and probably gotten more fans mad than Cross did. When the developers made Trigger, it was literally their dream game, with people from rival studios working together on what they all said was the most fun game they could think of. When they made Cross, I don't want to say their heart wasn't in it, but it definitely was more business than pleasure.

If you take all the stipulations that came along with the development, the developers were still able to incorporate it into the world of Chrono (Zurvan?) without causing any kind of major plot hole, inconsistencies, or implausibilities. The world in Chrono Cross is a group of islands that are forever sealed off from the outside world (at least during the game) by a storm, so you don't get to go to the mainland continents you're familiar with from CT. Also it was created after the events of CT so it is new and retconned and not retconned all at the same time. Characters and themes that had been explored in Trigger came back in Cross in a few places where they could stick them in. The story for Cross is big and complicated and if it felt like Trigger references were shoehorned in, it was probably because the developers really wanted to do justice to the Chrono name and get those references in there somehow at least.

So yes it is different from Trigger but not to detriment and certainly within reason given the context of its development.

Quote
Cross adds new content to the world that conflicts with Trigger (like the new species).
The 45 characters develop badly in comparison to the 7 in Trigger, for obvious reasons.

Time travel has disappeared, instead we have 2 (badly explained) dimensions
And the battle system is incomprehensible.

The new species are explained along with the explanation of the El Nido archipelago (the game's world map area), basically an artificial group of islands in the future had a research building on it called Chronopolis, they popped a hole in time and got sucked into the past. Meanwhile in a timeline where humans died out and reptites evolved instead, there is an identical group of islands with a research building called Dinopolis and it gets sucked back in time and merges with the other islands. So there's weird buildings and creatures and technology and characters who wouldn't be there if the future hadn't been saved in CT and Belthasar hadn't made Chronopolis (and "poked a hole" in time).

The 45 characters are probably the biggest annoyance because early in development they liked the idea that anyone could save the world so they wanted literally any NPC to be recruitable. It seems like they got to 45 and decided "eh that's enough". It's annoying because of the middle ground between a dependable standard group like CT and hundreds and hundreds of possibilities (what they were going for initially) like Suikoden or something. They didn't pick one, they tried to go somewhere in the middle and ultimately failed.

The two dimensions are rather poorly explained initially as simply "in one you're alive and in one you haven't existed for ten years". However, as the game goes on, more differences between the two are explained and the characters that exist in both dimensions are rather interestingly in different predicaments, and the whole thing has a nice "every coin has two sides" sort of message (or "the grass is always greener" if you like). If Chrono Trigger was a time traveling Christmas movie, it would be a Christmas Carol. They go through eras and decide they want to change the future when they see a version they don't like. Chrono Cross would be It's a Wonderful Life, where they see another what things would be like "if things were different". I think the relationship is rather complimentary. This is an opinion acquired over time, though, not what I thought at first.

Quote
I can actually see this game's plot as a good plot, but not as CT's sequel, but an independent story set in it's own universe.

I'd really like to understand what's good in this game, mainly storywise, and why it's deserving of the "Chrono" name.
Story-wise, it helps to flesh out the world of the Chronoverse, specifically Belthasar and Schala's stories, while keeping bright and colorful visuals and situations, though it takes the themes and story points to a deeper, darker level than was touched on in Trigger. Cross makes a smaller story seem big by scaling up what would have been a single era's quest in Trigger into what feels like a full world with its own charms and secrets. When it doesn't reference Trigger, it stands on its own two feet proudly and rightly so. When it does reference Trigger, unless you have the mentality of "just give me more more more more MORE!" then it does so respectfully and in a mostly satisfying way. It is more of a spin-off than a sequel but I feel it is deserving of the name with the care taken to not butcher Trigger's storyline just to allow this one to exist, and because the people at the core of development were the same for both games.

Quote
And again, sorry for starting with such a polemic post, but it's something I've been trying to understand, and finally decided to ask the other players about it.

I hope I've helped give you some insight on Chrono Cross as a die-hard Trigger fan who's only recently come to fully appreciate what my favorite game's step-sibling has to offer. Any more questions, just ask, I'd be glad to talk about it more.

If you haven't played through Cross, I'd recommend it thoroughly just to find out what the developers intended to happen to the world. If you don't want to play it, there are plenty of walkthroughs and "let's play"s on youtube, so check them out. What have you got to lose?  :wink:

EDIT:
A few final thoughts. The things I didn't like before seeing the whole story, which I do like now that I've gotten through the game, are the battle system and the walls of text. Honestly several characters can be bypassed and if you know which ones actually have development then you can have a satisfying playthrough with characters you like, ignoring the ones that are cringe-worthy. Because of this, I don't really have a problem with the characters and see it as a freedom of choice scenario. The battle system angered me at first because it was 50% of Trigger and thus is the biggest difference between the two games. While I felt like they could have gotten actual magic into the game somehow and avoided "Element" confusion when dealing with monsters and robots and things that really have no way of getting elements, the element system's incorporation into the battle system is its saving grace. Chrono Trigger's system was amazing. Everything happened on the map right there, no teleporting, no stock backgrounds, and the teams worked together with their attacks. I really thought (and still think) that RPGs should take more influence from the system today and I have no idea why they still don't (though Xenoblade looks to be in the same vein and that's awesome). However, Chrono Cross's FF/XG combo battle system is similar to Trigger in more ways in the under layers. It's the strategy. The similarities lie in the way that the enemies have certain magic color associations and need to be attacked with opposite colored spells. Obviously there's a little more to it but that's the meat of it, and it really is similar between Trigger and Cross if you overlook the superficial differences. Walls of text that I once despised have since awoken me to the fact that a lot of the exposition is in there and without the walls of text we would probably just not know what happened rather than be given the information in a more coherent way, if the developers were given a chance to revisit those parts.

Honestly I see the two canon Chrono games as two out of three parts. Chrono Cross left a big open ending that could easily lead into another spin-off adventure in which you assure that the world really will be okay despite all the tampering. When looking at the games' stories as a whole, it's simply not whole. Each game is self contained but there is a massive unexplored "ideal" world left over. This is probably the way a lot of people see it, but they don't realize such, so they hold Cross to blame for the lack of a third, story-fulfilling, final Chrono title. I used to blame Cross, but no more. I love Cross. I now blame Square Enix solely for their recent (more than a decade's worth of) idiotic decisions.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 04:44:54 pm by Mr Bekkler »

FrogsHonor

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2012, 04:35:29 pm »
Yea, I don't get it either, Cross made me hang up my katana in shame...Kato-san why did you shit on my fantasies...

Kodokami

  • Entity
  • Dimension Crosser (+1000)
  • *
  • Posts: 1110
  • Enjoy the moment!
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2012, 04:40:33 pm »
...you annoy me
Hey, none of that now.

To answer Kiloku's question, there are many things deserving of praise in Chrono Cross. The Compendium had a feature once that covered all the strengths and weaknesses of the game. I suggest you read it; I think you'll find it very informative. It can be found here:
http://www.chronocompendium.com/Forums/index.php/topic,2695.msg51335.html#msg51335
Oh, and be sure to read the intro at the top of the page.

Personally, I think the number one reason why people dislike Cross is that they hold expectations from playing Trigger. I may be biased though, as I played Cross before even hearing of Trigger. However, I think it helped me appreciate it more; I had no expectations from the previous game, and when I later played Trigger, it only added to the awe and excitement of the series.

Kiloku

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2012, 04:57:16 pm »
Thanks a lot, Bekkler, your post made the game much more understandable to me, while I do think of different paths the storyline could have taken (grounds for a fangame, maybe :P)
The story really fits more as a spin-off than a sequel, as you said, but some references and explanations for conflicts seem to have been forcibly jammed into the plotline.

Personally, I think the number one reason why people dislike Cross is that they hold expectations from playing Trigger.
This. I had different expectations, I didn't think it would be the same, but at least that it would be more familiar... And thanks for the link!

By the way, I did try to play Cross once, but I didn't like it's gameplay...
I'm considering the idea of trying again, let's see what comes out of that
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 05:01:14 pm by Kiloku »

HeadlessFritz

  • Porrean (+50)
  • *
  • Posts: 99
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2012, 11:29:28 pm »
I liked the game until the second disk, because of the way they put all the story elements in your mouth when it was already full after chronopolis. And the final boss was a huge disapointement. I was so disapointed by the ending that the game let a very bad taste after.

After dozen of replays my opinion changed, but these points remain for me :

-45 characters was a bad decision.
-Pathetic number of dual/triple techs, especially considering previous point
-Boss were, for 90% of the time, not challenging at all.
-Story rushed at the end. The fact that Magus was not involved in this game is unforgivable. He dedicated his life searching for Schala, and doesn't even appear once.
-Incredible number of plotholes

+ One of the top soundtrack of all time in a VG
+ Marvelous environments and artistic direction
+ Innovative battle system


Ryufen

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 03:23:16 am »

-Story rushed at the end. The fact that Magus was not involved in this game is unforgivable. He dedicated his life searching for Schala, and doesn't even appear once.


since they remade the chrono trigger game for ds, they have kinda made it so they could get away without including Magus, Magus erased his memories because he wasn't going to ever be able to save Schala.  He realized this when he tried to fight the dream devourer

X4220

  • Earthbound (+15)
  • *
  • Posts: 34
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2012, 12:01:22 pm »
Objectively speaking, CT is better game than Cross.CT doesn't have any significant flaws.I love playing with different characters in CC, but without a doubt I would exchange them for Magus and more scenes like ''campfire confession''.Maybe, there are some other things I would like to be changed.
But after all, I really prefer CC over Trigger.Why?
Story is complicated with confusing timelines and parallel worlds.But, every time I am impressed with story/ideas behind Serge/Kid/Schala/Lavos/Time Devourer/Dragon Gods/Harle/Fate/Lynx etc.Sheer ambition put into story always amazes me.IMO, now story in Chronoverse possess almost limitless potential.
Kid.To put long story short, for me she is best video game character ever.She could easily bear whole games on her shoulders.
El Nido.''Small world map''.Sure, it could be bigger, but somehow this archipelago is magically charming...
Character design.With all respect to Akira Toriyama, I would choose Yuki's work in CC every time.
And music.Oh my God, Cross' music, I am just speechless...

Ryufen

  • Iokan (+1)
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2012, 02:21:35 pm »
Objectively speaking, CT is better game than Cross.CT doesn't have any significant flaws.I love playing with different characters in CC, but without a doubt I would exchange them for Magus and more scenes like ''campfire confession''.Maybe, there are some other things I would like to be changed.
But after all, I really prefer CC over Trigger.Why?
Story is complicated with confusing timelines and parallel worlds.But, every time I am impressed with story/ideas behind Serge/Kid/Schala/Lavos/Time Devourer/Dragon Gods/Harle/Fate/Lynx etc.Sheer ambition put into story always amazes me.IMO, now story in Chronoverse possess almost limitless potential.
Kid.To put long story short, for me she is best video game character ever.She could easily bear whole games on her shoulders.
El Nido.''Small world map''.Sure, it could be bigger, but somehow this archipelago is magically charming...
Character design.With all respect to Akira Toriyama, I would choose Yuki's work in CC every time.
And music.Oh my God, Cross' music, I am just speechless...
^like

Beach Bum

  • Guardian (+100)
  • *
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2012, 01:59:06 am »
Guardia fell in TRIGGER, not in CROSS. Remember that nice Trigger ending FMV with Guardia soldiers being violently murdered?

Don't blame Cross for sh*t Trigger did.

Kodokami

  • Entity
  • Dimension Crosser (+1000)
  • *
  • Posts: 1110
  • Enjoy the moment!
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 02:23:51 am »
Guardia fell in TRIGGER, not in CROSS. Remember that nice Trigger ending FMV with Guardia soldiers being violently murdered?

Don't blame Cross for sh*t Trigger did.

That FMV was only added to the PlayStation port of Trigger in preparation for Cross's release shortly afterward so that fans replaying the Trigger port would have a tie-in to Cross. And Cross itself is expanded upon Radical Dreamers, which had suggested Guardia's downfall and Porre's militant rise long before Cross. So if we're gonna point fingers...

Quote from: Radical Dreamers
"The Frozen Flame... it was kept in a kingdom to the north for centuries,
legend has it...
With its subtle, mysterious power, it allegedly could guide people and
change history, all while somehow remaining elusive to those who sought it,
or so I have heard.
At the time of that kingdom's downfall, it was seized from its resting
place.

Beach Bum

  • Guardian (+100)
  • *
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2012, 04:04:51 am »
Hmmm, well I guess that does make sense, considering the whole baby Kid thing was there too.

Even so, I don't see how it's a bad thing. So Guardia fell, but it allowed for Porre development. And besides, Chrono Cross hints several times that Guardia has risen again.

Guardia has prospered for a thousand years, and sometimes at the expense of other nations. Does it really come as a surprise that it might fall? And when they added the whole Dalton thing it just made it more awesome in my opinion. He got his little revenge on Crono & co and is probably responsible for the invasion of El Nido.

Lennis

  • Chronopolitan (+300)
  • *
  • Posts: 383
    • View Profile
Re: Why Chrono Cross?
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2012, 04:37:50 am »
Having recently replayed Chrono Cross for the first time in years, I think I now have a better appreciation of what the game got right and what it didn't.  I certainly don't fault the developers for what they tried to do, given the technical limitations of the time.  Chrono Cross is a tale of unintended consequences, and I'm not sure any game before it really dove into such heady material.  It was the kind of story you might see in a hard sci-fi novel.  That anyone would even attempt to make that kind of narrative work in a game is a notable accomplishment.  (The Squaresoft of old was always pushing the envelope on what a console RPG could do.)

But novels and games are very different story-telling devices, and there is ample evidence in the game that Squaresoft was just in over its head this time.  Much of the story of Chrono Cross takes place outside of the moment - meaning you don't see the events happening, but are told about those events in exposition well after the fact.  That is a difficult trick to pull off in traditional fiction, let alone a game.  Creative writing 101 teaches you that it is always better to show than to tell.  Stepping away from the characters to explain matters risks losing the reader who relies on the characters to care about what's going on in the story's world.  Chrono Cross did this so much, especially in disc 2, that the characters were completely overshadowed by the plot.  This is a stark contrast to Chrono Trigger, where you really never felt disconnected from Crono and co. during their adventure.  This was a problem, and I think it's one that might have persisted even if Cross' overly large cast were pared down to a more manageable number.

Still, I think a lot more people would have been satisfied with Cross if it had at least tried to make compelling characters.  Instead we have a mute protagonist and 44 other characters who react to things in the game in almost exactly the same way - differentiated only by "accent".  That Serge was made a mute is especially mystifying, given that RPGs had been moving away from that stale convention for years.  Perhaps that was fitting, seeing that the real star of the game wasn't Serge at all, but rather the plot itself.  This would have been okay had the plot been consistent enough to carry the story.  It never really reached that plateau.  Inconsistencies were abound.  First it said that El Nido had been colonized about 100 years ago, then it said that it had been catapulted 10,000 years into the past and that the research staff of Chronopolis were the first colonists.  First it said that there had always been two worlds and that FATE had lost contact with Home World after Serge was saved from drowning.  Then it said that Serge was the cause of the dimensional split in the first place and that Home World was a false reality.  Then there is the question of what really caused the Time Crash.  Was it Belthazar?  Was it FATE?  Was it Serge?  Was it Schala in the Darkness Beyond Time, or was it just a Chronopolis experiment that went horribly wrong?  The game never really makes it clear (at least not to me), which is paradoxically the game's strongest and weakest aspect.  It's thought provoking, and maybe that was the whole idea.

Chrono Trigger is a character-driven story.  Chrono Cross is something entirely different.  I respect the deep waters Kato dared to tread in his sequel, but character-driven stories will always be superior in my eye.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 04:42:10 am by Lennis »